HC Deb 25 October 1973 vol 861 cc1492-3
Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order. I do not know how far, Mr. Speaker, statements of yours in this Session can be raised on a point of order in the next Session. That is why I rise today. I hope that this is a matter with which you will agree that the Leader of the House should deal. It is a genuine point of order and not a subterfuge.

You made statements last Monday, Mr. Speaker, in which you indicated two things. One was the appointment of a committee to look into the future organisation of this House; the other was the appointment of the next Clerk of the House.

I do not know whether you understand, Mr. Speaker, that there has been a considerable amount of feeling generated by that second statement. It was considered that Mr. Speaker took on something which, in the first instance, should have been a matter for debate in the House. I want to know whether the Leader of the House is apprised of that feeling and whether he can promise a debate early in the next Session.

There is a feeling, too, that in modern times all principal Officers of the House should be appointed by a simple resolution and not by letters patent from Her Majesty. I do not know whether you would like the Leader of the House to reply.

Mr. Speaker

I think that the technical position is that the effect of Prorogation, which is expected tonight, is to suspend all business until Parliament meets again. I have ruled that it is not in order to ask questions in one Session relating to business for the next Session. I am sure that the Leader of the House will have heard what has been said.

As far as my position is concerned, I do not think with respect that my statement has been studied with sufficient care. It is precisely because of my awareness of the feeling that the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned that I set up this Committee, and prescribed the particular matters, about which he said there was some disquiet, to be considered by it and then by the House. I was trying to serve the House while trying to discharge the administrative duties laid on me by statute.

Mr. George Cunningham

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May we have guidance? There may be questions from time to time which hon. Members may wish to ask about Sir Edmund Compton's operations, whether he will cover a certain point, when he is likely to finish, and so on. The Leader of the House told me the other night that the appointment had nothing to do with the Services Committee. Therefore, I take it that it would be wrong to put questions to the Leader of the House in his capacity as Chairman of the Services Committee about that matter. Are we to take it that it would be right to put questions about that matter direct, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker

This is essentially a House of Commons matter. We must consider how this inquiry should be conducted and what opportunities should be given to right hon. and hon. Members to put their point of view and to ask questions. I do not think that I should rule on this today. It is a matter for consideration and further discussion. The hon. Member is on a real point, but it is a matter for consideration, and for a ruling or guidance at a later date.